OERu/Planning/Technology working group/Describing the OERu MVP Platform

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First Release of Minimal Viable Product and Minimum Viable Platform (mid 2016)

At the 4th meeting of OERu partners hosted by North-West University on 7 and * October 2015 in Vanderbijlpark, South Africa, it was agreed to give priority to the launching of the OERu Minimum Viable Product (MVP) initiative during 2016. Work continues on identifying a potential exit award and the constituent courses that will be offered as part of this "Free 1st Year of Study" initiative. Partners also agreed to use WikiEducator as the primary authoring environment for the MVP, and to host courses on a common platform provided by the OERF using the new OERu theme.

So, as well as defining our Minimum Viable Product, there is also a need to describe the Minimum Viable Platform upon which we plan to deliver the selected courses - both need to be in place. The responsibility for key aspects of the Common Platform will be assumed by the OERF, but for other aspects responsibility will be delegated to partner organisations. The OERF will aim to develop and provide assistance in adopting "known-good" open source technology platform components for partners.

Centrally Managed Services

The OERF will continue to take responsibility for the "authoring platform": WikiEducator.org site and its rich set of authoring tools and digital asset management capabilities.

In addition, the OERF will provide the following elements of the platform which we will scale to meet demand:

  • oeru.org - a content management system for hosting the main OERu website which provides a gateway for the listing of OERu courses and information for prospective partners and students. Partners are assigned CMS administration rights for maintaining their own content pages (nominated courses and partner listings)
  • Community Discourse - an authoring/collaboration collaboration space where partners can communicate and support one another in the process of creating courses within the OERu's framework and contribute to planning the implementation of the OERu.
  • Forums Discourse - a space for peer-to-peer learner collaboration and optional guidance/mentoring from partners and volunteers.
  • OERu Chat - a less formal space for one-on-one and group discussion, drawing together various channels including instant messaging and IRC (chatrooms) into a persistent, searchable knowledge base.

Delegated Services

Services provided by OERu partner institutions:

  • payment gateways for institutional services such as course assessments, accreditation, and some study services.
  • WordPress or LMS instances of OERu materials suited to partner's preferred environment for read-only OER.
  • directory services to provide single-sign-on authentication for enrolled students.
  • Learning Management System to support OERu materials, if desired.

Showcase Open Source Services

The OERF will explore (prototype and trial) open source solutions to various use cases/scenarios that may be of interest to partner institutions with the aim of offering documented implementations of "known-good" configurations, with a description of the use case. Proposed open source exemplars might include:

  • a Single Sign-On (SSO) solution applicable to a number of open authentication standards.
  • a means for allowing learners to join a cohort pursuing a particular course (or set of courses at the same time) possibly supported by internal or external assistants.
  • a "Course Resource Bank" service Working prototype for online references identified and entered by learners.

Standards for Interoperability

Because of the OERu's commitment to using open source software to build our platform, we use and, in some cases, provide services which make use of open standards related to their functional domain to facilitate compatibility and interoperability with other systems (which may or may not be open source themselves). For example, if we create a Single Sign-On (SSO) solution, it will be built around open interoperability standards for directory services, authorisation, and authentication like SAML, OAuth2, and others. This provides the prospect that OERu partner institutions with their various technology decisions and investments can determine whether their institution's systems can integrate with those being created as part of the OERu's Minimum Viable Platform, in this case for the purposes of distributed authentication and authorisation of learners participating in OERu courses.

We will provide a list of platform technologies and the open standards supported by those technologies to assist our partners who want to integrate with OERu's systems, and to inform their future technology purchasing decisions.

Future Plans

To be discussed.